Recently I’ve been in a writing slump. This is different to writer’s block in the way that I wanted to write, I had story ideas, but every time I opened up the Word Doc or looked at my printed MS I didn’t know how to proceed and what to do to make it better. I’m blaming self-doubt for this. That voice in the back of my mind piped up, thinking that everything I did was no good.
How to beat the slump
There were four things I did to bring myself back out of the slump.
1) Defining a theme. I felt there was no focus in my stories (yes – I was in a slump for all three short stories I was writing.) I knew what the plot was but something just felt missing so I defined my theme. Defining the theme gave me a better idea about the conflict and gave me more ideas about how to present each scene and ways to show my theme using the characters. It gave my story more focus.
2) What I love about the characters. I’ve written about some of the characters before, I knew them well, but somehow they felt 2D. I needed to rediscover what I loved about them, their quirks and flaws and the dynamics between each other. I had to work out the conflict and their history. Falling in love with them again brought back my enthusiasm to write the story.
3) Why I wanted to write the story. What did I have to say that was so important that people would take the time to read? What did I want readers to take away from my story? How did I want them to feel when reading it? What was the purpose? This is tricky to figure out and I still don’t think I’ve wrapped my head around it. For me, I love my characters, and I want my readers to get to know and love them as I do.
4) Write through the doubt. It was difficult to shut that voice up but I did it with focus. I sat down with my printed MS and let myself just focus on the words and edit as I normally would. When I’m not focussed on what I’m doing then self-doubt tries to drag me down. I had to focus to work through it.
I worked myself out of this writing slump and had a great writing sprint, I just hope that I can keep it up and remember these steps for future slumps. Self-doubt is the killer of creativity. Remember that!
Have you suffered through writing slumps? If you have any tips of how you overcame them, please share!